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National Latino Congreso to Congress: Oppose Bush's NAFTA Expansions!

NEWS RELEASE, October 7, 2007

National Latino Congress Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling on U.S. Congress to Stop Signing New Trade Agreements

Latino Leaders Say U.S. Cannot Address Immigration without Changing Course on Failed Trade Policy

Los Angeles, CA – Reflecting on the root causes of poverty and migration in Latin America, the National Latino Congreso has unanimously approved a resolution rejecting new trade agreements based on the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and calling on the U.S. to change its international economic policies, which so far are largely to be blamed for producing wealth and income inequalities abroad, as well as at home. In the case of Latin America, policies promoted by the U.S. have also resulted in the impoverishment and displacement of millions of rural inhabitants.

The resolution adopted on Saturday Oct. 6 by delegates of the Second National Latino Congreso , comes at a moment in which the U.S. Congress considers a new trade agreement with Peru, which largely mirrors NAFTA. The adopted resolution reads, in part:

“Therefore, be it resolved that the organizations present at the 2007 Latino Congreso, are strongly opposed to expanding the failed NAFTA and CAFTA through the “free trade” agreements between the United States and Peru, Colombia, and Panama, and will mobilize our constituencies to work in vehement opposition to their passage, and call on the U.S. Congress directly to reject these agreements.”

The resolution specifically condemns national lawmakers who are attempting to push anti-immigrant legislation while continuing to push for expansion of trade and economic policies that force families to emigrate in the first place. More than 1,000 Latino leaders present applauded the passage of the resolution, calling it an important step towards addressing the obvious link between current U.S. trade and economic policies, and migration.

"NAFTA has been the main cause for more than 1.3 million Mexican campesinos to lose their livelihoods. Not surprisingly, the number of Mexicans who have emigrated to the United States rose 60 percent in the first six years after NAFTA," said Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of the National Association of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, a National Congreso convener. "We can only resolve immigration issues by addressing the bigger question of what is forcing so many people to emigrate in the first place. The first step is to stop expanding the same agricultural rules of NAFTA to Peru and other Latin American nations," concluded Mr. Chacón.

“Members of the U.S. Congress must realize that in order to provide long term solutions to our current immigration patterns, they need to examine the root causes of such patterns,” said Angela Sanbrano, President of NALACC. “If they do not fix the failed NAFTA model of trade, we will be fighting over immigration again and again,” added Ms. Sanbrano. “It is unbelievable that in the middle of a contentious debate on immigration, Congress is considering passing trade agreements that are certain to increase the pressure on impoverished small farmers in Latin America to attempt to come to the United States,” concluded Ms. Sanbrano.

The national convening organizations of the National Latino Congreso, include the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), the National Hispanic Environmental Council, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), the William C. Velasquez Institute and Earth Day Network (EDN). The goal of the 5-day long agenda-setting event is the creation of a long term action plan and Latino agenda.

NALACC is a network of immigrant‐led organizations working together to advocate for fair national and international economic and social policies that contribute to a higher quality of life of immigrant communities in the US and their countries of origin. For more information, please visit www.nalacc.org

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